Max Bush & GVSU's New Play Collaboration

Max Bush


During the winter semester of 2012, GVSUs Theatre program will host the playwright Max Bush as artist-in-residence to develop a new play with Grand Valley students dealing with the Iraq conflict. Tentatively titled AN IDENTIFIED ENEMY, the play will explore issues of combat stress, rendition of prisoners, and post-combat cultural readjustment among Iraq war veterans. Two staged readings, free to the public, have been scheduled in the Universitys main theatre on February 25 and 26.

Public performances of the reading will be:

Saturday, Feb. 25 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 26 2:00 p.m.
Louis Armstrong Theatre, Allendale Campus

Admission is free but due to limited seating, a ticket will be required. Stop by or call the Louis Armstrong box office (616-331-2300) to obtain a free ticket.

Workshop Information:

Sign up for the workshop is now available at the Louis Armstrong Box Office in person or by calling 616-331-2300. Space is limited to the first 25 and all participants must be committed to all of the workshop's sessions:

Feb. 18 & 19 10:00am to 6:00pm (PAC 1506)

Feb. 20 - 24 6:00pm to 10:00pm (LAT)

Feb. 25 10:00am to 8:30pm (LAT)

Feb. 26 1:00pm to 4:00pm (LAT)

The workshop will launch in mid-February when Bush will begin working with 20 - 30 students on developing the play. Student actors, designers, dramaturgs, and writers will collaborate with Bush in a workshop setting to develop the dialog, character interactions and scene structure of the new play. GVSUs Theatre program has optioned the finished script for a possible fully staged production during the 2012 - 2013 theatre season.

Workshops leading to staged readings are the customary procedure for developing plays in the United States. Actors and other artists relish the opportunity to make original and creative contributions to an emerging play, free of prior interpretations by previous productions and critical opinions. Playwrights also enjoy the opportunity of hearing their dialog spoken by trained actors, and watching the plot unfold in such workshops. The staged reading with actors in minimal costumes and working on a minimal set with scripts-in-hand, permits the writer to introduce dialog changes as the work progresses, even up to the day of public performance.

AN IDENTIFIED ENEMY tells the story of two Michigan veterans of the Iraqi conflict, Jamie and Della. Recently returned from Iraq, the two are enrolled in college and desperately trying to adjust to civilian life and put their war experience behind them. The plot revolves around Jamies struggle to discover the whereabouts of an Iraqi friend, Jalil, whom he believes saved his life one afternoon. Jamie suffers flashbacks to his recent combat experiences, recalling scenes of battle and the last time he saw Jalil who was arrested by CIA operatives and then mysteriously disappeared after Jamie returned Stateside. The 13-member cast includes members of Jalils family, soldiers in Jamies unit, insurgents, FBI and CIA agents, and civilian contractors, all of whom play different roles in the unfolding story.

Bush will work not only with actors, but also with other students keenly interested in production work and artistic direction. He has lined-up several veterans of the Iraq conflict to work with the students, as well as civilians who served the military in Iraq. GVSU directing students will serve as assistant directors to observe Bushs methods and assist in rehearsals. Student dramaturgs will assist with research, and designers will plan the lighting, as well as the minimal settings and costumes necessary for the staged reading.

Max Bush is a freelance playwright and director from Hamilton, Michigan, whose plays have been widely produced on professional, educational and amateur stages across the country. He has won numerous awards for his two dozen published plays including the Distinguished Play award from the American Association of Theatre and Education, the IUPUI National Playwriting Competition, and Individual Artist grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts. His work has been staged at Chicagos Goodman Theatre, the Emmy Gifford Theatre (Omaha), Karamu House (Cleveland), the Hartford Childrens Theatre and others. Local audiences may recognize his work from productions at Grand Rapids Community Circle Theatre, Central Michigan University, the Holland Community Theatre, and elsewhere. A graduate of Grand Valley State and Michigan State Universities, Maxs earlier play THE CRYSTAL, received its American premiere in GVSUs Allendale Theatre twelve years ago.

An special preview meeting has been scheduled in Grand Valleys Performing Arts Center on November 18 from 4 - 6 p.m. Students and others interested in participating in the project will be able to meet Bush and hear a read-through of the working script, and learn more details about the planned workshop in February. Faculty coordinator of the project is Dr. Roger Ellis, whose twelve anthologies of new American and international plays are widely used in schools and colleges across the country.

Page last modified November 19, 2015